Sunday, March 1, 2015

New from Debra Clopton | ‘Betting on Hope’ Kindle Giveaway

Saddle up for a new romance from novelist Debra CloptonBetting on HopeIn Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire HD 6 to celebrate the release of Betting on Hope


bettingonhope-400 


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A copy of Betting on Hope

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 8th. Winner will be announced March 9th on Debra's blog.


bettingonhope-enterbanner


{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: The Crimson Cord


The Crimson Cord
By Jill Eileen Smith
Daughters of the Promised Land, #1
Revell, 2015


Summary

Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband's debt. Forced into prostitution, she despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime.

In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside Jericho's walls--or if she will ever know the meaning of love.

Under Jill Eileen Smith's talented hand, the familiar story of Rahab bursts forth in high definition. Immerse yourself in a world of dark and dusty streets, clandestine meetings, and daring escapes as a mysterious biblical figure claims her full humanity--and a permanent place in your heart.


My thoughts

There's just something special about the writing of Jill Eileen Smith. Other than popular biblical fiction writers of the past that I loved - Lloyd C. Douglas and Taylor Caldwell, for example - I haven't enjoyed much in this genre today until I tried Jill's books. She writes in an authentic and charming way that holds true to the biblical account while fleshing out the "what might have happened" areas in a moving way. Even readers who don't particularly like biblical fiction would enjoy the historical aspect of Jill's writing.

Although not a lot is revealed about Rahab in the Scriptures, almost everyone knows of how a prostitute saved Israel's two spies, resulting in the later saving of her family as the walls of Jericho crashed around her. Through what must be tons of research and her knowledge of this culture, especially of the way women were treated, Jill put forth an interesting and plausible way in which Rahab could have become a prostitute and how, rather than enjoying the lifestyle, she only accepted it as a way of survival for herself and her family.

Time is given to both Rahab's background and life leading up to the visit of the spies, as well as to her new life with the Israelites. Secondary characters are easy to relate to and I especially enjoyed Tendaji, Salmon, Joshua and his wife, Eliana. We also see the sharp contrast between Israel and the pagan Canaanites, the strict obedience God demanded, and the way Rahab struggled with God's punishment brought on Achan and his household . . . "Why would God save a foreigner and let His own die?"


____________________

"A God who can topple Jerocho's walls
can also offer forgiveness."
- Salmon to Rahab
____________________


I found the second half very moving, as Rahab lives with the Israelites under Joshua's protection and begins to learn the ways of God. For me, as Rahab comes to understand and accept the concepts of grace, mercy, and sacrifice of innocence for guilt, it was like seeing all this anew, with fresh eyes - sin that required the sacrifice of innocent blood, tempered with God's mercy and grace. One of the most moving scenes was when Salmon sacrificed a lamb on their behalf.

The most beautiful thing about The Crimson Cord is the symbolism of scarlet/crimson and how, from the scarlet cord used to save the spies and later Rahab's family, to the blood of a sacrificial lamb, everything points to Christ's ultimate sacrifice. And what a compelling message for us today - that God is in the business of redeeming, even those thought most unredeemable.

I highly recommend The Crimson Cord to all readers. Jill has also done a great job in creating a Pinterest board that gives a wonderful sense of character and setting for this story, so be sure to check it out by clicking "See on Pinterest" below.






Jill Eileen Smith

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of the Wives of King David series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and The Desert Princess, first in the Loves of King Solomon series. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Connect with Jill online at jilleileensmith.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

The Crimson Cord can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, Amazon, and B&N.

Thank you to Jill Eileen Smith and Revell Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mist of Midnight Giveaway: Kindle Voyage touch screen




I have never had the opportunity to read Sandra Byrd's novels, but I plan to start with Mist of Midnight, which captured my attention just from its description and cover. If you're familiar with Sandra's books, please share. 

Visit Sandra's website, enter her Kindle Voyage Giveaway, and learn more . . .



Mist of Midnight
Daughters of Hampshire, Book 1

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her…and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes. That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.


____________________


        After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel,To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. The Tudor series’ end cap, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.
        A life-long lover of Victorian Gothic romances, Sandra’s new series, Daughters of Hampshire, weaves elements of that mystical, traditional genre with inspirational and literary threads. Mist of Midnight, the series’ first book, debuts in March, 2015.
        Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens, and is passionate about helping new authors develop their talent and their work toward traditional or independent publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.


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Click on this link - Mist of Midnight Giveaway - or the image below to enter. Contest ends March 31.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Paper Hearts


Paper Hearts
By Courtney Walsh
Tyndale House, 2015


Summary

Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.


As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?



My thoughts

Paper Hearts is the first of Courtney Walsh's books that I've read, and to be honest, I was initially drawn by the charming cover. As a result, I discovered a most satisfying and delightful story, filled with humor, populated by endearing characters, and with a charismatic setting - and am  now a Courtney Walsh fan.

Paper Hearts has an appealing cover, a town obsessed by love for a setting, and valentine messages scattered throughout, yet romance isn't the central theme. It's more about personal relationships and struggles with guilt, anger, hurt, and unforgiveness. Thinking I was in for a light, fluffy read, I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and emotion within.


I love it when setting almost becomes a main character, and that is exactly what happens here. Loves Park, Colorado - a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains that is literally obsessed with romance, a "prime location for weddings, honeymoons, and those looking to rekindle what they once had." Small towns where everyone knows everyone else aren't always as idyllic as they sound, but I think the good wins out in Loves Park.



Jacob could see Longs Peak from his back porch

Another major character is actually a group of five eccentric ladies called the Valentine Volunteers and I don't think anyone could help but fall in love with them. Ursula - flamboyant, outspoken, and bold - plays a big part in this story, and I can so identify with her comment, "At some point you should be old enough to make the rules up yourself."

I found Jacob and Abigail easy to relate to with their imperfections, brokenness, and attempts to cope by staying busy. I'm not sure how realistic it was for Abigail to care for the man who was forcing her out of the book store that meant everything to her, but that didn't keep me from enjoying their growing relationship.  It was touching to see them learn to relinquish control and learn the value of putting the other person's needs before self. "You make me want to live again" . . . These words written on a valentine are what Jacob and Abigail brought out in each other.


As with a lot of fiction, I felt there could be a little less rehashing of thoughts at times, and I wanted Jacob to be strong and stand up for Abigail rather than go along quietly with his totally unlikeable business partner - but that eventually changes and this story has so much going for it that I was completely won over.



_________________________

"The very best love stories are the ones that are flawed and full
of forgiveness and pain and joy and challenges and happiness.
All these things make up a love story."
-  Gigi
_________________________



I think the strength of this story comes from the valentine messages sent by one special couple to Loves Park through the years - messages that focused on positive aspects, what they loved and appreciated about their spouse. This should be a challenge to all of us, for I can't help but think what an impact there would be in any relationship if we quick to forgive, focused on positive qualities rather than negative, and communicated those feelings in a meaningful way.

I greatly enjoyed Paper Hearts and will be reading more from Courtney Walsh. The ending is quite satisfying, but leaves an opening for further development. I really hope this becomes a series, for there are secondary characters that simply beg for their own story. And who wouldn't want to see more of the Valentine Volunteers?!

You've got to watch this cute trailer . . .








Courtney Walsh

Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. Her debut novel, "A Sweethaven Summer," hit the "New York Times" and "USA Today" e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two more books in the Sweethaven Summer series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois with her husband and three children.

Visit Courtney online at www.courtneywalshwrites.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Paper Hearts can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, Amazon, and B&N.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ebook deals on Amish fiction by Vannetta Chapman


If you enjoy Amish fiction, check out these great ebook deals on books by Vannetta Chapman, $1.99 to $3.99. Pricing like this doesn't last long  . . .



Murder Simply Brewed
An Amish Village Mystery, #1
$1.99 at Amazon

        When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery.
        Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops—until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register.
        When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends—as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren't convinced.
        Clues that don't add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance—all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to reveal answers to the mysteries around them.




Murder Tightly Knit
An Amish Village Mystery, #2
$3.99 at Amazon

        In a town where Amish and Englisch mingle every day, a grisly murder leads to mutual suspicion. Can Amber and Hannah find the killer before fear unravels the community . . . and before he strikes again?
        Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something was amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop. The store has been closing at odd times, the ever-dependable Mary isn’t always at her post . . . and an Englisch man has been loitering around back.
        Now, as leaves of brown, gold, and orange blanket Middlebury, Indiana, Owen lies dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—one of them leading right to The Cat’s Meow.
        The police call in a federal investigator, but Hannah and village manager Amber Bowman are in no mood to wait for them to figure out what they already know—that no one from the Amish Village killed Owen Esch.
        Amber and Hannah need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.




Falling to Pieces
A Shipshewana Amish Mystery, #1
$1.99 at Amazon

        In this first book of a three-book series, author Vannetta Chapman brings a fresh twist to the popular Amish fiction genre. She blends the familiar components consumers love in Amish books—faith, community, simplicity, family—with an innovative who-done-it plot that keeps readers guessing right up to the last stitch in the quilt.
        When two women—one Amish, one English—each with different motives, join forces to organize a successful on-line quilt auction, neither expects nor wants a friendship. As different as night and day, Deborah and Callie are uneasy partners who simply want to make the best of a temporary situation. But a murder, a surprising prime suspect, a stubborn detective, and the town's reaction throw the two women together, and they form an unlikely alliance to solve a mystery and catch a killer.
        Set in the well-known Amish community of Shipshewana, Falling to Pieces will attract both devoted fans of the rapidly-growing Amish fiction genre, as well as those who are captivated by the Amish way of life.



And be sure to try Vannetta's excellent romantic suspense novel, Hidden, also on sale . . .


Hidden
Jacobs Family Series, #1
$2.99 at Amazon

        Home is where our story begins ...
        Dana Jacobs would rather forget the night of tragedy and violence that marred her childhood. She is now supervisor in charge of the Department of Homeland Security in Taos, New Mexico. Her team is prepared to handle any threat—biological, chemical, conventional, cyber, even nuclear. Benjamin Marshall is newly assigned to Dana’s office. Straight from a six year military deployment, he is not what Dana wants or needs.
        Ben knows God has a reason for putting him in this place at this time—to help Dana. When a local school is threatened, they open a case which leads them on a chase through the Enchanted Circle and Carson National Forest, pursuing a man filled with a bitterness Dana can understand. But her anger is different. It’s justified, it remains hidden inside, and it hurts no one.
        Can Dana face her own mortality? And when she does, can she truly understand what it means to forgive and to be forgiven?

Author Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Meg Moseley


A Stillness of Chimes
By Meg Moseley


It is an honor to welcome Meg Moseley back to The Power of Words! Meg lives in my home state of Georgia and writes southern fiction of the highest quality, but the appeal of her writing transcends that specific genre. Meg is a wordsmith - and her latest book, A Stillness of Chimes, has a hauntingly beautiful quality.

When I compiled my 2014 Best of the Best list, I had no hesitation in placing A Stillness of Chimes on it (click on title for my review). You can also click here to see my interview with Meg last year. One of you will receive a copy of this book from Meg, details at the end of this post.

Now enjoy as Meg shares about A Stillness of Chimes and what it means to her . . .


Meg:  A Stillness of Chimes tells the story of a young woman who’s shocked to learn that the beloved father she’d thought dead might have faked his death and slipped away to the Blue Ridge Mountains near her childhood home. Her quest to learn her father’s fate reveals almost more truth than she can handle.

I think the heart of this story is that even imperfect and damaged people can demonstrate the kind of love that asks us to lay down our lives for our friends. That “greater love” won’t necessarily look heroic, but real heroes don’t worry about appearances.

In writing A Stillness of Chimes, I discovered my voice as a writer, as well as some themes that will always be important to me. I’m not one of those writers who can churn out a book a year, so my current focus is to find a new story that will be worth pouring my heart and soul into, for as long as it takes.

Carole:  Meg, I'm glad that you don't try to turn out a book each year, for surely that pressure affects an author's quality of writing. I consider you to be a gem in the Christian fiction market and am eager to see the next story that God places on your heart. Thank you so much for being here, Meg.

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GIVEAWAY

To enter the drawing for A Stillness of Chimes, please leave a comment or question for Meg. If you've read any of Meg's books, please share your thoughts.

BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter.

"Likes" on my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, are greatly appreciated, as are followers on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and this blog.

Contest ends at midnight PST on Wednesday, March 4. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.

Eligibility: US & Canada